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Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Last Saturday I did another workshop with Christine Bishop at the Embroiderers' Guild. This was a workshop for the Certificate Course the Guild runs. All members are invited to attend, whether or not they are enrolled in the Course. I have attended a few Certificate Workshops this year. On Saturday there were ten attendees enrolled in the Course, and ten not. Quite a big group for our generous and accommodating teacher.

Wikipedia has a bit of background on Cilaos embroidery. The Guild's description of this cutwork embroidery says:

This is possibly the easiest form of cutwork with the grain of the fabric.  It is worked on a 38 count Ricamo linen. This style developed in the village of Cilaos in the late 19th to early 20th century but was based upon the much earlier Spanish Teneriffe lace of the 16th and 17th centuries.

Christine had very generously prepared fabric for us -  cut ready to start. There was a choice of a heavier or finer fabric. I went with the heavier. 

We did the preparation in class - folding back the cut sections and overstitching them, before tacking the linen to calico to mount it in a hoop and removing the short cut threads in the dividing sections.

Then we began the process of laying the threads - from one edge, through the middle threads where they are secured with knots and over to the other edge.

The design is then woven between the laid threads. We used a DMC Cordonnet No 10 for all work on this heavier fabric. Those working on the finer fabric used a DMC 40.

It requires quite a lot of concentration. I needed to check my steps a number of times with Christine - who is patient, spots errors at a glance and always has a solution.

As this is the last Workshop for the year, there was a shared lunch with a lot of relaxed discussion.

Nevertheless, we got back into stitching in the afternoon. 

As I have a number of unfinished products from recent workshops I really wanted to finish this one, so continued working on it over the weekend. I got this first motif finished the same night - but had to undo a bit the next morning.

As I progressed the work I realised the trickiest bit, for me at least, is achieving an even tension. It is not easy to ensure each section is as tight as the last.

 I finished the motifs on Sunday, then embarked on buttonholing the edge.

My motifs are not even - but I have improved as I went along and could, I think, improve significantly with finer thread and fabric (assuming I can see to do it!).

Today I constructed the pincushion, using an ecru linen. 
It is a bit wonky- a beginner's piece. It will, however, act as a record of the class and a guide to the technique. I'd be able to work out how to make it more even and precise in future efforts.

Once again, I am grateful for the chance to attend the workshop, to Christine for her knowledge, skill, commonsense, generosity and patience and my fellow students for their companionship and sharing.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Craft Fair purchases

I didn't want to clutter the post about the Sentinelles with my own purchases at the Craft Fair. I resisted all fabric temptation. I went with a (short) list of specific items I wanted to look at, culled from the booklet sent to me by the organisers - clips for holding layers of fabric, scissor sharpeners and a kit for a tablet bag. I came home with none of those. The clips were flimsy, the crowd around the scissor stall was too daunting to ask my questions .My main interest in the tablet bag was the handprinted fabric, which was great, but (fortunately!) not available on its own.

I did purchase three things - a pack of printable cotton in postcard size, scissors and some 2 ply alpaca wool.

I am very pleased with the scissors which are designed for carrying on board aircraft. At the moment I take a small secure bladed wheel to cut thread while stitching on planes. Adequate but not flexible. As I try to travel domestically with only carry-on luggage I often find myself buying small scissors interstate and posting them home to myself.

These scissors are sharp, short and have rounded ends. They will cut fabric (slowly!).

They come with a clip-on cover. This does clip on firmly, so may last the distance. I would prefer it to be coloured rather than transparent so it is easier to see when dropped - but I understand the argument for being able to see the blade.

These scissors were available from two stalls at the Fair. I bought mine from Tinkering Tools where you could buy 4 pair for $10 - a bargain. The 4 could include other small scissors as well. I went for three pair of the travel scissors and one other. This means I can keep a pair with three projects to grab and go.

My other purchase was two skeins of 2 ply alpaca wool from Dairing, , a Melbourne company. Their stall had a wonderful range of their innovative products - interesting combinations of yarn and some even more interesting knitted garments. Their website gives some idea of their range, but the stall gave a better.
Dairing top 

In spite of their interesting blends, I bought their Show Special - two skeins of 460 yds of two ply alpaca. I think these will make lovely triangular shawls.

I didn't know about this company before the Fair, but a number of Embroiderers' Guild members tell me they visit the Richmond shop whenever they are in Melbourne.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Visit to Craft and Quilt Fair

I don't usually write about craft shows I go to, but this year's Adelaide Craft and Quilt Fair has an exhibition that I couldn't resist sharing. This was the exhibition of the Sentinelles, a textile design originally stitched by Dijanne Sevaal, then expanded to include others who bought and stitched her hand printed and dyed panels.

I really loved them. They have given me so many ideas. A sentinelle  is one who watches, observes, remains faithful.

It is a project I would really have liked to have been involved in.

It has been touring the craft fairs in Australia this year.

My photos are not the greatest - but give the idea.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Second BATB class: French Birdcage

The second class I took at Beating Around the Bush in early October was a two day class with Christine Bishop, to make her French "Birdcage" Workbox and Accessories.

Christine was kind enough to hold up her finished piece so we could photograph it.

It has six panels - and quite a few accessories!

We spent the first day of the class learning the stitches required for the panels - by working one panel, not to completion, but to the point where the components were clear.

We worked Italian four-sided stitch, satin stitch and double running stitch, before learning Sorbello knots - which give texture to the birds.

On the second day we switched to the Scissor Fob and worked the whole thing in a day - helped along by Christine making all our cords for us!

It was terrific to go home with something completed. I have added a pair of scissors to my fob and will use them in completing the project - as an incentive.

Since the class finished I have worked on a second panel. I took it to one of the Guild's Thursday stitch-in evenings.

I need, however to take a desk light if I am going to continue to do this - counted thread work is hard on my eyes. I found even the double running stitch quite difficult without light. I found it hard to place my needle in the same hole on the return journey - you can see where the needle has glanced off by one thread. This, I learned from another class, is a common problem, addressed by angling the needle under the previous stitch.

Nevertheless, I have one panel finished - minus the bird.

I need to work on some Christmas items - as well as the other classes I am attending - so am not sure how much more I will get done in the next couple of months. This is a medium-to-long term project.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Italian Banner Sampler - SA Embroiderers' Guild.

I have been in Sydney for a few days, helping my brother to photograph some paintings under glass - quite a difficult task, but one that can only be done in good daylight.

Christine Bishop's demonstration sampler
While there, and travelling, I have been progressing a sampler I started last week at an Embroiderers' Guild Italian Banner Sampler class taught by Christine Bishop. The Guild description of the class reads:

This sampler gives you the basics of 7 different styles of Italian embroideries from surface stitches , counted work and fabric perforated. Choose to work as many of the four sections of the sampler. Instead of Sicilian cut and drawn you will be given this same pattern in Assisi or cross stitch.

While the focus required wasn't ideal for travel conditions, it was all in one colour and there were blocks of repetitive work that could be memorised, so I found it worked quite well, especially for the time on planes without distraction.

In class we worked the little dragon at the top left,  in Perugina embroidery,  then the outline of the box for the Sicilian cut and drawn (Punto Tirato) dragon below it.

The first part of our homework, before the second day of the course in two weeks' time, was to draw the threads in this box in preparation for the weaving.

With a bit of planning I was able to set this up before I began my trip, cutting the threads before I left home, so I could work on the plane without sharp scissors! I could draw the threads quite successfully without scissors, and also secure them under the border.
I made two errors in drawing the thread - but was able to fix these by, in one case, inserting a new thread, and in the other, by gently moving a thread.

I also completed the Punto Antico quadrant - essentially satin stitch. I didn't get the spacing quite right in this - but I am not after perfection in this sampler. There is one component I may take out and redo if time permits.

Now all I have to do by next weekend is prepare the Italian four-sided stitch grid for the quadrant with the Casalguidi-style initial! Given that I am doing another Embroiderers' Guild class all this weekend, I may be pushing my eyes.